Many singles, and married people, meet others they are attracted to where they work, according to a Fox Business story entitled “Rules of the Office Dating Game: What's Acceptable?” With most people spending more time at work than anywhere else, this makes perfect sense. You could decline a date request from a co-worker if your company has a strict “no fraternization” policy or if you are simply not interested in the co-worker.
Sometimes it is easier to deflect a request than turn the guy down directly. You could laugh and treat his invitation as a flirtatious joke, responding that he is really sweet to invite you out. If you are gentle and kind, it allows him to save face and can prevent an awkward moment when you interact at the office. If he doesn’t accept your gentle deflection, you can tell him that you prefer not to date someone from the office. Make it clear that you prefer being his friend over his date.
Some people find that dating a co-worker can make a mess at the office, according to Ann Friedman in “Why a Woman Should Never Date Her Co-workers," published by "New York Magazine." She acknowledges that some companies, such as global ad agency Crispin, Porter and Bogusky encourage office romances. Some companies make inter-office dating cause for dismissal, according to the legal advice website Nolo in “Anti-Nepotism and Fraternization Policies.” If your company has a prohibition against office romances, you can tell your co-worker that you’d rather keep your job than try to keep your date a secret.
Dating someone from the office can become uncomfortable if the relationship goes south, so you might gently explain to your co-worker that you like to keep your private and work lives separate. You can add extra emphasis if the request comes from someone who is up or down the chain of command from you. In that situation, you could say that you never want to wonder if a decision about either of you has to do with your personal relationship or your business relationship.
If you have no interest in your co-worker, you can tactfully make that clear. You might say that you just don’t see the person as someone you are romantically attracted to, or you might hint that you already have a significant other. Hang a picture of your partner in your office or place it on your desk to discourage further romantic interest from the co-worler.